Friday, 21 May 2021 14:23

Aligning your Workforce Plan

With the Bank of England earlier this month forecasting the biggest economic bounce back since WWII, and the final stages of the lockdown lifting plan remaining intact, despite the Indian Covid variant, it seems that we might actually be on the cusp of an economic resurgence. There might be an element of seeing is believing but we should all remain optimistic at least.

Businesses will be chomping at the bit to re-ignite their growth plans and make up for lost time, but we can’t ignore that the workforce landscape has irrevocably changed. Concerns over skills shortages and increased competition in the skills marketplace that we experienced pre-Covid has been compounded as employees re-evaluate their own work-life balances and longer-term life goals following the pandemic.

Successful and sustainable businesses have a goals-led business strategy that supports the senior leaders in planning the direction of the organisation. It is those businesses with a detailed Workforce Plan, which underpins the operational plan, that are the ones in control of their human resource forecasting enabling them to deliver the overall business and growth objectives.

To maintain a growth plan in the post-Covid world then, it is imperative that companies are in front of their competition when it comes to attracting and retaining “talent”; anticipating workforce needs and being proactive about making the plan happen. Working from home and hybrid workspaces are new concepts for employers to factor in.

Even the very best business plans can only come to fruition if the right people are in the right positions with the right skills at the right time. So effective workforce planning should be seen as a vital business process that aligns the changing organisational needs with the right people resources to deliver the wider business ambition.

When developing an effective workforce plan, we need to consider the different elements that influence it:

  • Understanding the skills marketplace now and in the future – We need to ensure talent availability when it’s needed so this means researching University and school leaver rates over coming years as well as having an awareness of what the local community and demographic has to offer. Covid has exposed more organisations to remote working, expanding the potential talent pool to global proportions.

  • An honest assessment of the current business and workforce – An honest and realistic evaluation of existing worker potential and likely attrition rates can be difficult but is necessary. Nobody wants to be seen as a bad employer so understanding why people leave can be a key learning in future recruitment drives.

  • Supply and Demand - One reason employees leave might be that they don’t feel their skills are optimised; a signal that your future skills supply may already exist in your current workforce. But not everyone wants promotion or to move continually upward. Sometimes a sideways move or redeployment can be a way of retaining talent in readiness for an increase in demand.

  • Planning the timeline – A Gannt chart cross referenced to the business plan can be a useful tool here. Being able to predict when your skills needs will arise gives you the opportunity to do something about it. Speak to the local colleges and universities and influence them to run the courses to provide the skills you’ll need in 2, 3 and 5 years. Consider apprenticeship schemes and talk to the local LEP about how they can influence skills.

  • Constant review – Covid has taught us how our plans can be thrown into disarray almost overnight. But it’s also given us a very successful lesson in how quickly we can adapt. Your business plan might constantly shift and change in line with economic influences so your workforce plan must do the same. Don’t be afraid to fail quickly and pivot as necessary.

Our emergence from the pandemic might prove to be a key turning. It’s been widely reported that individuals are choosing to re-skill and this creates an opportunity for business to influence what shape that re-skilling might take. This can’t be achieved however without a workforce plan.

We are running and a series of one-day seminars focussing on Workforce Planning. Sponsored by Worcestershire Council they are free to attend for businesses bases in Worcestershire but readers of this post can receive a 50% discount saving £75 per delegate. Book your place now at https://hrchampions.co.uk/events/category/6 and use the code WFP50


If you would prefer a one to one discussion about workforce planning, then simply get in touch. Call us on 01452 331331 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Read 1126 times Last modified on Friday, 21 May 2021 14:30


HR Champions provide first class HR and Employment Law support and advice to UK businesses; operationally and strategically. If you're an employer you'll potentially need some, if not all, of the services we offer.

We deliver excellent management and soft skills training suitable for all organisational levels. We are ILM and City & Guild accredited and Ken Blanchard approved.  





We are located in Gloucester in the West of the UK close to the M4 and M5 corridors. For a precise map and directions find us on Google Maps

We have clients all over the UK but predominantly within about an hour's drive time of our offices; in Gloucestershire, South Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, Bristol and Swindon & Wiltshire.